EghtesadOnline: While e-governance initiatives were to help downsize the government, the secretary of Iran’s IT Executive Council says that due to the bloated bureaucracy, these initiatives have not delivered the promised results and even made things worse.
During a press conference at the ICT Ministry on Saturday, Reza Baqeri said, “Each ministry and state agency have set up offices for offering services through mobile apps,” recruiting new members for the 2.3-million-strong army of civil servants in Iran.
“Lack of adequate infrastructure for offering online services used to be considered the main reason for the failure of e-governance projects. Now the infrastructure is in place, but apparently there is no will among state authorities for embarking on the road to digital transformation,” he was quoted as saying by ICT Ministry’s website.
The council, affiliated to the ICT Ministry, is in charge of overseeing the implementation of e-government projects in Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Baqeri, even when there is a push for offering digital services, state agencies operate as separate entities, “like independent islands”.
He presented a few examples: “Ministries of industries and energy, along with the Iranian National Tax Administration, have separately announced that they will introduce new apps to offer some services. The problem is that all these services can be offered through the mobile government app,” which was introduced in May 2018.
The council is set to push related authorities to implement three major e-governance projects faster, namely an integrated tax system, electronic healthcare records and government financial transactions records.
Iran IT Organization Chief Amir Nazemi also took to Twitter the same day to say, “When surveyed independently, government agencies have made some headway for offering electronic services. However, the lack of coordination and integration of services has rendered the results unsatisfactory for users.”
As part of a push to reduce the country’s burdensome bureaucracy and boost citizens’ access to government services, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration introduced a mobile application in May 2018.
The application aims to expedite public access to services offered by state bodies and curb the paperwork that has been a source of exasperation for generations.
According to Baqeri, the app has been downloaded more than 7 million times.
Striving to trim bureaucracy, the application is the culmination of efforts to employ e-governance for offering public services.
According to officials, the e-governance plan is designed to eradicate the lack of coordination between state bodies and ease citizens’ access to services through the application of information and communications technologies. However, as is evident from Baqeri’s comments, the government is far from achieving these goals.
While for the first time in the history of the country the public can have effortless access to certain information, the application is still a far cry from the e-governance agenda of cutting red tape.
“Many organizations have not yet cooperated with the ICT Ministry to share their database and offer online services,” Baqeri said.
While the application is advertised to be 24/7, some features tested outside office hours were not accessible or required users to register with the organization’s website to get the service.